Surely, no one can eliminate every possible risk associated with online activities, but by taking reasonable precautions, one can significantly reduce the risk.
- Create strong passwords. A good, strong password should be long and complex, with lowercase letters, capital letters, special characters, and numbers. Example: P@$$w0rD!
- Antivirus. Your device – computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone – should be equipped with reliable antivirus software. Update it regularly. Malwarebytes is a free antivirus which is also available for smartphones and tablets.
- Updates. Updates contain fixes and patches to security loopholes and breaches for all Operating Systems (Windows, Mac OS, IOS, Android). Make sure all your devices are up to date.
- Backup. Creating a backup of your files and settings is essential. This will help you recover in the event of a possible breach.
- Adjust browser security settings. Most popular browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox have settings that allow to block potentially harmful resources, such as pop-up windows.
- Remember to log out. When using public computers and laptops make sure you are signed-out from all websites that you visit WebAdvisor/Self-Service, Moodle etc. It is also advised not to save any files especially personal files on public computers.
- Check the email address. Before you open any email, check the email address and make sure you know who sent the email. At times, an email will look like it is coming from someone you know, but the email address does not match the person you know. Be suspicious of anyone asking you to purchase something for them. Check for grammar mistakes or miss spellings.
- Think twice before clicking on links in emails. Chances are you will receive messages from cyber-criminals that design them to be very convincing. However, often contained within will be links to copycats of well-known websites that ask you to provide various information, including credit card numbers or passwords. A quick way to find out if a website is legitimate is to google the website yourself.
- Be careful what you download. There are so many resources available out there so sometimes we do not give a second thought about what we download. Of course, the Internet has tons of legitimate sites with safe content, but the ones that offer harmful content filled with malware are also out there. This principle applies to email attachments too – be wary of unexpected or oddly named files!
The bottom line is that we are the ones responsible for our actions online. The vast majority of security breaches occur because of carelessness by a person. Take just a couple of seconds to think about what you are about to do before you do it. If you are unsure, do not do it! Get some advice or help from the IT professionals.